Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Tiny_Beautiful-680.jpgThis book is a collection of the advice column responses called Dear Sugar written by Cheryl Strayed. At the time of publication, Strayed was known to her audience only as Sugar. Completely unqualified for the job, Strayed took it anyway and her advice captured the attention of many. From love to loss to sex, Strayed his wholesome advice and shares her own life stories.

I became a huge fan of Cheryl Strayed after reading Wild. It was a life changing book. Tiny Beautiful Things was no exception. This book is filled with sound advice, and it will leave you thinking, smiling, laughing, and even crying. Some of the columns I could deeply relate to while others I just enjoyed for their perspective. No matter what the issue, however, Strayed has a way of connecting to people and forming a loving bond. I give this book a 5 out of 5. If you ever looking to be influenced by literature, Strayed novels are a great place to start.

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El Deafo by Cece Bell

eldeafoI am a huge fan of graphic novels! Sometimes there is nothing better than reverting back to a child-like state and picking up a book filled with pictures. I think graphic novels are great for those looking for something different, kids that struggle with comprehension and informational texts that would ordinarily be boring. So as you might be able to tell, I was particularly excited about reading El Deafo.

El Deafo by Cece Bell is a graphic novel about her childhood. Being deaf, Cece faced many challenges when it came to friends, doing well in school, and feeling accepted by others. El Deafo is funny and filled with relatable moments about growing up and discovering oneself.

If you are looking a lighthearted novel for a lazy Sunday, I would definitely recommend this one. I love that Bell incorporates so many childhood moments that we can all relate to. I also love the unique perspective of what it is like growing up with a hearing impairment. I know that I personally had a lot of misconceptions about hearing impairments until I read this novel. I would give this book a 5 out of 5. Great, easy read!

Common Sense Media Rating: 9 yrs +

brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

brown girl dreamingThis is probably going to be one of the most unfavorable reviews I write. I was really disappointed with this one. I have had brown girl dreaming on my booklist for quite some time. I started adding more multicultural literature to my bookshelf last year, and this one grabbed me from the moment I heard about. It has won so many awards! People love it! What could go wrong…

Brown girl dreaming is the memoir of Jacqueline Woodson written in verse. Jacqueline grew up during a changing time in America, especially the south. Segregation was still going strong and the south didn’t plan on changing anytime soon. Jacqueline’s family is from the south and she spends some of her time there, but mostly she lives in Brooklyn with her mother and siblings. This memoir recites the life of Jacqueline trying to find her place in life. She speaks about the troubles she faces in school, the differences in the north and south, sibling rivalry and everything in-between.

Okay, I honestly can’t write anything more in that summary. I hated this book! I really did. I keep thinking that there is probably something I am not seeing in Jacqueline’s verse, but I was bored to tears. This story could have been left sitting in a diary – I think it would fit better there. I love multicultural literature, and I love memoirs…but not this one. I give it 1 out of 5. Now, I need to start selecting better stories.

Common Sense Media Rating: 10+ yrs

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman

book_orange-is-the-new-blackIf you own Netflix or don’t live under a rock, you have certainly heard of a recently popular show: Orange is the New Black. What not everyone knows is that the show was inspired by a novel called Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman’s Prison. As a fan of the show myself, I was dying to know what was true and what wasn’t. The book answered some of those questions for me and also provided a bit of a surprise.

Piper Kerman was in her 20’s when she fell head over heals for a woman named Nora. Nora was exciting, adventurous, flirty…and a drug dealer. Piper knew these things and eventually, she took on a task for Nora: smuggling drug money. It was a one time event and eventually Piper left that life behind and began to settle down with a man named Larry. Fast forward 10 years and the law has caught up with Piper and her old drug offense. She is sentenced to a little over a year in a women’s prison. This memoir chronicles many brave and inspiring women that she meets, the trials that she faces and the problems with our prison system today.

This book was way more than I expected. Having seen the show, I thought it would be about crazy stories of prison life. And while yes, it is stories of prison life, it is really eye-opening. Piper gives us a look into what prisoners really face every day and asks the tough questions: Do these people deserve this? Is there a better way? How are we failing prisoners? These are things that the average person never has to think about but really, we should. Our tax dollars go towards housing prisoners and our society is made up of ex-convicts. Is locking these people up enough or should we be doing more? And how should prisoners really be treated? I give this book a 5 out of 5. I have really begun to think about these answers for myself and I hope this book will make you think too!